And alas, here I am: a rural Pennsylvanian working as an Advertising intern in the city of Washington, D.C. How did I even get here?
When applying for internships, it’s always important to reflect on what’s important to you. You can think about this in a myriad of ways. For example, what is it about your major that interests/motivates you? For me, I majored in English because I love understanding characters’ motivations. In The Lord of the Rings, for example, what inspires Frodo to take the ring to Mordor? I decided to explore a career in advertising because, in marketing (the area of which advertising belongs), we are doing just that—examining audience motivations in order to understand why a particular product/service matters.
After speaking to various individuals about the internship process, many have voiced similar concerns and anxieties, specifically when it comes to landing an internship. It’s not that internships are hard to obtain; it’s the question of how does one apply for an internship when they are unsure of what to pursue post-college? Don’t fear! In the following list, I have assembled a series of important things to consider when applying for internships:
- Do you have any passions? What are some of your hobbies? Why do these passions/hobbies matter to you? Think about the things in your life that matter. For me, I love the performing arts. Beyond loving them, the performing arts are a means through which I understand the world. In addition, I love writing and communicating with others about why the arts matter. As an Advertising intern for a performing arts organization, this is exactly what I am doing: communicating about the importance of the arts. Think about how your passions, hobbies, and interests can effectively contribute to an organization.
- Your internship does not need to 100% correlate with your academic major. The assumption that one’s major must correlate with their career has become quite pervasive. Your college major, especially when you are studying at a liberal arts institution, does not determine your career. For instance, I know a Biology major who is an Accounting Executive and a Computer Science major who is a Communications Specialist. As liberal arts majors, we take classes from a variety of disciplines. In doing so, we learn how to think as writers, as philosophers, as scientists—this list continues. As a result, you have a large skillset, and are a valuable asset to the company of which you are applying. Make them know this.
- Your internship is a learning opportunity—ask questions, seek answers, and embrace others’ viewpoints. When you begin your internship, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your supervisors and colleagues don’t expect you to be a pro at writing press releases, producing radio spots, etc. You are shadowing individuals who are (presumably) professionals in their respective fields. As such, they are a vital resource for learning about the ins-and-outs of the field! And also, just between you and me, the supervisors love answering your questions. Not only does it show that you care, it shows that you have a genuine interest in your colleague’s perspective.
- Embrace the internship experience and begin thinking about what you like & don’t like about the field in which you are working. As the Internship Notation Program says, begin drawing conclusions after you experience more of your internship. Could you see yourself doing something similar for a full-time career? If not, what aspects of the internship did you most enjoy? Creating and editing multimedia content? Writing? Deploying marketing campaigns? The good thing about internships is that, even though you might not see yourself working for that particular organization, you might find areas of the business—marketing, operations, IT, etc.—that you will want to further explore in the future.
And with that, this concludes my first blog post! I will post more tips, recommendations, etc., as my internship continues. Best of luck with your internships/work opportunities, my friends! The next time you hear from me, I will have completed my first day at the Kennedy Center as the Advertising: Editorial Communications intern. Stay tuned!